WilcoOffroad Hitch-Mounted Tire Carrier Solo Hi-Clearance Quick Install Guide + Full Review For The 5th Gen 4Runner
“It is worth it?” has got to be one of the most difficult questions to answer to a stranger.
It’s just impossible to answer without knowing anything about how a person perceives value and what they’re trying to accomplish. The only true way of helping someone answer this question (on their own), is to provide valuable feedback about a product or service and lend personal experience in an effort to guide someone to formulate their own opinion.
With that being said, the only question I get about my WilcoOffroad Hitchgate Solo Hi-Clearance is, coincidentally: “Is it worth it?”
Well, Let’s find out.
WilcoOffroad, the makers of the Solo Hi-Clearance is the granddaddy of rear hitch mounted tire swings. They’ve been making these things for years now and they’re one of the very few companies offering an easy hitch-mounted tire carrier.
The design of their tire carriers started over 10-years ago in an effort to create an easy and universal solution to mounting a full-sized spare to any vehicle. Since then, the company has developed a series of Hitch Gate products to suit the varying needs of the off-road community.
- Hitchgate Solo (pictured): Check Price
- Hitch Gate Offset
- Hitchgate Max
For the purposes of my review, we’ll be diving in on one of the variations of their Original Hitchgate Solo Hi-Clearance.
Hitchgate Solo Hi-Clearance Specs
I picked up one of these used on Vilmont Market when searching for a cost-effective way to move my full-size spare, at the time 285/70/17, and to create a little bit of extra real estate to mount gear. Although the 4Runner spare tire bay can accommodate tires up to 33”, I wanted something that was going to be easier to access.
The unit we picked up was the Hi-Clearance version of the Solo Hitch Gate which raises the Swing arm 4” higher allowing for better departure angles. This is the ideal unit if your hitch receiver is mounted below your rear bumper. Capable of mounting a tire up to 35”, this unit was going to be more than sufficient for our intended purposes.
The previous owner of the unit did not spec the additional Swinging hitch Option (available for $69.99) which gives the user the ability to mount things like bike racks or additional cargo baskets and have them swing out with the tire. Although the Hitch Gate Solo provides you with a second Hitch Receiver, the fixed mounting position is mainly intended for towing since any additional gear (Bikes, baskets, etc) can get in the way of the tire swing arm. So, if you’re looking to mount extra items, I recommend that you opt for the additional option.
As our unit came pre-assembled, install time was probably ½ of what it would normally take should you pick one up new. WilcoOffroad uses the Bilt App which lists install time as right around 30 minutes for 1 person (including assembly).
It also lists out all the tools you need and allows you to navigate all install graphics in 3D with different angles (it’s actually super cool and convenient). We were able to get the thing installed in no time and didn’t have any need to peruse the Google or YouTube for supplemental install information (which is rare).
The Solo Hi-Clearance mounts to any 2” Class III Hitch receiver which is the standard receiver size on our 4Runner – perfect. The Solo Hi-Clearance uses a specially designed Wedge Lock system on the end that you insert into your Hitch Receiver that drastically reduces any movement or rocking of the unit (a big concern to a lot of folks). Since the Bilt App makes install super easy, I won’t take too much time explaining.
Essentially, you grease up the Wedge lock end into your 2” Hitch receiver. Once in, you need a socket with a long extension to expand the wedge which eliminates any play between the Tire Swing and your hitch receiver. When this is complete, all you need to do is secure the Solo Hi-Clearance with any standard Hitch Pin (we opted for a lockable version for added security). Folks who bought their swing arms new will have to install the swing arm first before installing their tire. We were able to skip a couple of steps and directly mount our tire. Done.
Let’s get to the point, shall we?
The Solo Hi-Clearance does everything it’s designed to do and does it well.
We’ve had our unit on for about a year now and really have not had any issues or malfunctions. It holds onto your spare tire and secures it (assuming you properly torque your lug nuts, which Discount Tire did not do correctly after my last tire rotation).
WilcoOffroad says that the Solo Hi-clearance can accommodate a 35” tire or up to 150lbs of weight. We can confidently say that we have tested the upper bounds of this claim and the Solo Hi-Clearance has held up (though you’ll certainly hear the strain in the form of squeaking when you’re loading the thing down). Currently, we have a 17” SCS Ray 10 and a Kumho Tire Road Venture MT71 in 295/70/17 mounted which weighs in at a little under 100lbs.
Our most recent feat of the Solo Hi-Clearance was towing a 6’x12’ enclosed trailer cross country from Greenville Texas to Colorado Springs. We estimate that the total load of the trailer and our cargo tipped the scale at about 4000 lbs (about 1000 lbs under the 4Runners rated towing capacity of 5000lbs and 3500lbs under the towing capacity of the WilcoOffroad).
All that was needed on our end was a 4” Drop Ball Mount to allow the tire to swing clear of the trailer tongue. During the 800 mile journey, I honestly was not worried about the capability of the Solo High Clearance.
One down-side to the Solo Hi-Clearance is it’s modularity when compared to some of the newer tire swings such as the RIGd UltraSwing that gives you the ability to incorporate Molle-Esque paneling for mounting solutions.
Although WilcoOffroad does offer several accessories and mounts for the Solo Hi-Clearance including a RotoPax/HiLift combo Mount and a dual Rotopax Mount, they’re pricey. Like stupidly so. I honestly didn’t think they were worth it to pick up.
If you remember, modularity and creating real estate to mount gear was a primary driver in picking up a tire swing. Unfortunately, this is probably where I was let down the most. Since picking up any of the WilcoOffroad mounts was not a cost-effective option for me, I didn’t really have any other options to mount gear short of drilling directly into the unit or creating my own mounts. I ended up mounting most of my stuff to my Gobi Ladder or throwing it into my Trasheroo.
Life with a Tire Swing
There are several things that you need to consider when getting a tire swing as they will alter the way you currently navigate your vehicle.
Added Operation: You have to get used to adding additional steps to opening the hatch, which is super annoying at first, but gets a lot easier once you do it a few times. Each time you open and close the hatch, you have to remove the securing pin, swing out the tire (carefully since it doesn’t have a hinge stop and can swing too far and damage your vehicle) and finally open the hatch. You then have to reverse the process. I will admit, I have on like 2 occasions, forgotten to secure the tire swing and taken off. Thankfully no damage was done, but you can imagine the pucker factor when you’re cruising down the highway at 70mph, glance in your side mirror and see a 295/70/17 swaying back in forth. Don’t do this.
Obstructions: Unless you relocate your back up camera, the Solo Hi-Clearance will 100% obstruct your view due to it’s centered position. If you would like to use your back up camera, you can opt to spend a little more money and go for one of the Hitchgate Offset Tire Swings, or relocate your back up camera.
You’re going to have to relocate your license plate to remain compliant with traffic laws. WilcoOffroad offers a License Plate Relocation Bracket for just shy of $75.00 (remember when I said all the mounts were spendy?).
I opted to mount my license plate to my Gobi Ladder using a combination of cable ties, and 1” and ¾” Rubberized Cable Clamps (1” for the vertical ladder tubing and ¾” for the horizontal rungs). Although technically I’ve relocated the license plate, many municipalities and state transportation code technically require your rear plate to be lit. So, if you’re one to be 100% compliant, you’ll have another challenge.
Towing with the Solo Hi-Clearance is going to require a pretty significant Drop Hitch. In our case because of our tire size and the tongue of the trailers we were towing (6×12 Enclosed U-Haul and 5×9 Open U-Haul) we needed to purchase a new 4” drop.
So, is it worth it?
Pictured: Wilco Offroad Universal
Although the WilcoOffroad Hitchgate Solo Hi-Clearance has been super solid through our use and has not had any issue, I think there are many areas aspects of it where there was more to be desired. It’s utilitarian, but just that – and I wish it did more.
Being able to find one used for $500 and nearby was the primary driving factor in specific product selection. Had I been in a position where I needed to buy a new Solo Hi-Clearance and pay full price for one ($836.74), I’d seriously consider other products such as the WilcoOffroad Hitchgate Offset, or the RIGd Supply Ultra Swing which are both roughly $300 more.
For me, the desire to have more options and modularity definitely warrants consideration.
One day, I’ll eventually upgrade to a C4 Fabrication full rear bumper with dual swing outs to finally get the modularity that I’ve been endlessly searching for in the WilcoOffroad.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disappointed in the WilcoOffroad, I just wish it did more than swing out a tire, which that, it does exceptionally well.